The Marwari is a rare gaited breed of horse that originated in India and is believed to possess Arabian bloodlines in their history. The horse’s exact origins are unknown, but they have become easily recognized all over the world by their inward-turned ear tips, which nearly touch at the top.
History and Origins
The Marwari is a very old breed, around since at least the 12th century in Northwest India. Like many other breeds of solid substance, the Marwari horse has war horse roots.
For example, the Marwai horse was used as recently as World War I by the Marwar Lancers, and much further into India’s war history as well. But when the usefulness of the war horse declined, so did the numbers for the Marwari breed.
It has since been making a steady comeback but is still considered pretty rare.
An additional reason for the breed’s decline was the caste system which forbade most of the population from riding Marwari horses. As a result of all of these problems, a government survey in the 1990s estimated that only about 500-600 Marwari horses were still in existence.
Marwari Horse Breed Statistics
Height and Weight
The Marwari horse ranges between 15 – 16 hands in height and weighs roughly 830 – 900 pounds.
Color and Markings
Bay, black, palomino, chestnut, and pinto are the primary colors in which you can find a Marwari horse.
Marwari breeders allow for both piebald and skewbald traits. According to some sources, grey is the most desirable color and albinos are only used for religious ceremonies. However, chestnut horses are less desirable to some because they are thought to indicate out-breeding. Some sources say that to many, black is considered ominous and is therefore undesirable.
Whorls on the neck and fetlocks are considered good luck, and many Marwari horses have a white blaze and white lower legs as well.
The desired conformation of a Marwari horse encompasses many specific traits.
Head: refined with a straight profile
Ears: curved inward to the point of touching at the tips
Neck: clean and slightly arched
Back: strong and short
Legs: long with strong joints
Feet: extremely hard
Characteristics and Temperament
The Marwari horse is spirited, brave, and loyal. They have thin skin that allows them to easily bear thirst and extreme heat. They are sturdy and hardy, able to survive on small rations in the desert environment, and physically well-adapted to extracting their feet from the deep sand efficiently.
This physical adaptation hinders their speed a bit, but it makes for a smoother ride on the back of the Marwari breed.
The Marwari has traditionally been trained for “dancing” at weddings and festivals in rural Rajasthan in a performance similar to classical dressage performances by Lipizzaners at Vienna’s Spanish Riding School.
They are now used for various types of showing and show jumping as well as for pleasure riding. Marwari horses are also good for carriage horses.
Marwari Horse Facts
- The Marwari was originally only bred in the color black. It has since become more diverse, appearing in shades of chestnut, bay, palomino, and pinto.
- Interestingly, some sources say that black Marwari horses are no longer desirable because they are thought to be ominous.
- The Marwari breed’s characteristics that help them maneuver well in deep sand – straight shoulder bones which keep them from striding out – actually works against them when it comes to speed. Speed isn’t everything, however, and this trait makes them more comfortable to ride.
- Other names the Marwari horse has been known by including the Marwadi or Malani breed.
Marwari Horse Breed FAQs
How much does a Marwari horse cost?
Rs. 3 lakhs and up, according to online sources. In American dollars this would equal somewhere between $4,200-4,300 and up.
Are Marwari horses gaited?
Yes. They are born with a “rehwal” or “revaal” gait. It is a four-beat lateral gait which, while quick, is much smoother and more comfortable to ride than a trot, and is useful in the desert to cover long distances.
Why are Marwari horses’ ears curved?
The inward curling ears of the Marwari breed have long been thought to be a sign of good temperament.
Where do Marwari horses come from?
This breed is native to the Marwari, or Jodphur, region of India. The majority of Marwari horses can still be found there today.